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Madonna's 'American Life' Reborn

Madonna's "American Life" video has been reincarnated as a tamer, nonviolent version of its former self.

The performer scrapped the original version because she thought its violent, antiwar themes were inappropriate during the U.S.-led conflict in Iraq.

The first video from her new "American Life" album — which comes out Tuesday — featured explosions, a runway show of couture army fatigues and Madonna dancing in a military uniform. At the end, she threw what looked like a hand grenade into the lap of a President Bush look-alike.

The new version, which premiered Wednesday night on the cable network VH1, still features Madonna dressed in a military uniform, but she's simply singing in front of a backdrop of ever-changing flags of different countries.

When Madonna decided not to release the original version earlier this month, she said: "Due to the volatile state of the world and out of sensitivity and respect to the armed forces, who I support and pray for, I do not want to risk offending anyone who might misinterpret the meaning of this video."

But in a VH1 special that aired before the video's debut, the 44-year-old singer said she was frustrated that some celebrities who express antiwar sentiments are suffering a backlash.

The Dixie Chicks, for example, saw sales of their best-selling disc "Home" drop after lead singer Natalie Maines told a London audience she was "ashamed" of Mr. Bush, a remark for which she later apologized.

Print advertisements for the teen comedy "What A Girl Wants" originally featured a photograph of star Amanda Bynes wearing a tank top with an American flag on it and flashing the peace sign with her fingers as she stands between two British royal guards.

But with the war in Iraq sparking anti-war protests in the United States and abroad, Warner Bros. quickly changed the ad. The studio said it feared the peace sign would be viewed as a political message.

Madonna's ex-husband, actor Sean Penn, has been an outspoken opponent of the war and has visited Baghdad.

This is not the first time Madonna's videos have caused a stir.

In 1989, religious images in "Like a Prayer" led Pepsi to drop her as a spokeswoman. In 1990, MTV refused to air "Justify My Love" because of its sexual content. Two years later, it relegated "Erotica" to early morning hours, and in 2001, VH1 and MTV wouldn't air "What it Feels Like For a Girl" because of its violent content.

"You know, it's ironic we're fighting for democracy in Iraq because we ultimately aren't celebrating democracy here," Madonna said. "Because anybody who has anything to say against the war or against the president or whatever is punished, and that's not democracy — it's people being intolerant."

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